Well, who would have thought, going into the playoffs, that
two wild card teams would make it to the World Series? Talk
about your Cinderella stories.
Perhaps no other team in the league started as low as the
Anaheim Angels. Starting as far back as 1989, the Angels seemed
cursed. That was the summer reliever Donnie Moore committed
suicide when he couldn’t recover from surrendering the
deciding run back in the 1986 ALCS game 5. (So maybe the bad
luck started in 1986?) Depressed and drinking, Moore blamed
himself for the Angels’ series loss to Boston three
years earlier and decided to end it all.
Of course, the 1998 death of their beloved team owner, the
singing cowboy Gene Autry, knocked the Angels down once again.
Autry had bought the expansion franchise in 1960 and had been
its only owner for thirty-eight years. He never did get to
see his baby play in the World Series. When Jackie, his widow,
presented the ALCS trophy to Scioscia after last week’s
victory over the Minnesota Twins, the manager said, “We’ve
had a lot of Angels looking down on us. This one’s for
So is that the key to the turn around? Autry and Moore are
on the other side now and have a little pull with you know
Or could it be the addition of Scioscia himself? Formally
in Dodger blue, Scioscia came to the Angels with a calm resolve
and a steadfast idea about team support. Instead of allowing
his players to panic and play the blame game after their horrendous
season start, the manager taught his players to pick each
other up and pull the best from one another.
Or could the key to the turn around be that furry little
friend: the rally monkey? Apparently, about two years ago,
two guys on the video crew at Edison Field put a monkey clip
from the film Ace Ventura: Pet Detective on the JumboTron.
They flashed the words “rally monkey” with the
hopping image…and a tradition began.
Players credit the rally monkey and the accompanying fan
enthusiasm with a lot of their success. David Eckstein said,
“The monkey has been great for us. We wait until he
comes out I guess.”
Whatever the secret to Angel success is…I wish I knew.
I’d bottle it and sell it on the street. (Could it be
those deafening thunder sticks?)
As for the San Francisco Giants? They couldn’t catch
the defending World Series champs, the Arizona Diamondbacks,
during the regular season in the NL West and haven’t
won it all since 1954, but the slick fielding of J.T. Snow,
the clutch hitting of Barry Bonds, Benito Santiago, and Rich
Aurilia compounded by the hard throwing of Jason Schmidt and
Russ Ortiz has them knocking on the Angels’ door.
So it’s an all-California World Series, a runoff of
runner-ups, underdog meets underdog, second place is first
at last. And who will win this unprecedented match-up?
Anaheim in six. You just can’t underestimate the power
of a rally monkey.